Real Fit for Real Life
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From Ridgefield, take route 7 north towards Danbury. Tarrywile is fairly easy to find with Google maps. This spot is near & dear to my heart because when we first moved here a year and a half ago-ish, we spent 66 nights at The Residence Inn nearby, and so this was the first hike I discovered. I took my girls, then my entire family, then I went alone for a trail run/hike. I got to know it a bit-- Tarrywile was like my first new friend. I found a lot of solace & comfort on these trails as I worked through the emotions of missing my Utah home & wondering what the hell we were doing moving all the way across the country to a place we couldn't afford. Alas, I digress. Let's just say, it was nice to return to Tarrywile & let her (because Mother Nature is female) know I was okay, that it all worked out & that I'd found my place in my new world.
The past couple times I've hiked here, I parked in the parking lot near the silo. This time I parked near the greenhouse, more by accident and Google maps leading me astray than for a specific purpose. There is ample parking at both lots & a porta potty at both lots- hallelujah!
I started by walking beneath the grapevine arbor on the left toward the old stone structure and the vista lookout. I realized as I looked down that I was above the silo & other entrance, so I got my bearings & walked back toward the rear of the greenhouse, where I stopped to use the portapotty before going down the steps that I knew would lead to the trails.
Initially you'll follow a wide trail that climbs gently past a meadow. At .35, You'll arrive at Parks Pond, a peaceful spot to picnic & let the kids run around in the grass. This is also a great spot for birdwatching and duck watching. The nice thing about Tarrywile is that it's a little more popular, so you will come across walkers and runners and not be all alone, like some hiking spots. Continue past the pond & you can follow the main Ives trail or hop on the white trail closer to the pond. I opted for that way today to start. I spent some time just watching a gaggle of geese swim gently across the pond before continuing on. At .4, you will come to a boardwalk that will help keep your feet dry as you circle around Parks Pond. The nice thing about the white trail on the pond is that you will occasionally see benches, a perfect spot for your little ones to rest. I also came across a triangular sign with the letter C, apparently designating camping sites. Perhaps I should check out the campsites someday!
At the top of the pond loop, you will reach a wooden bridge crossing and then come to a tree marked white, blue, and with the Ive trail markings. For a short hike with little ones, stay on the white to loop the rest of the pond; to increase distance go ahead and take the blue trail. On this day, I wanted more mileage, so I took the blue at .75.
As you begin the blue trail, you will notice some gorgeous bouldery on your left and beautiful moss-covered rocks in the streambed on your right. The trail gently rises but is an easy hike. When you see the blue marker with the number two, turn right. There are marked trees on the left as well, so that can be confusing. You will know you have gone the right way if you cross a little boardwalk bridge.
Here the blue trail is a bit narrow and begins to climb. At mile one, the blue trail goes both left and right with some boulders in front of you. I checked the trail map and could not explain this… I opted to go left, which turned out to be the right choice because it took me to where I wanted to be, the option to continue straight on the blue or to go right on the green. For a shorter hike (and the one I had originally planned on), go on the green and then loopback around on the blue. A fellow hiker told me the best views were another mile on the blue, so I ditched my original plan and decided to go on.
At 1.63 I reached the junction to either stay on blue to Back Pond or get on yellow for Beacon. I knew the great lookout would be the climb up beacon, so I dutifully hopped onto the yellow. First, it's calm, a small bridge & gurgling stream, then it's go time. The hiker I passed was not lying when he said it's pretty vertical! But he said to try it if I want to work out, and who am I to pass on a workout?! Even though this hike is definitely too much of a climb for little kids, I would recommend it for older kids. Stop and take breaks when you need to, but it is totally doable especially if your kids are athletic! And the view is the best I have seen in Connecticut so far! I could see an entire town! Another hiker came by, and I asked him to point out to me all the sites I was looking down upon. Luckily he had hiked this many times before and was familiar with the area, so he could even point out Lake Candlewood in the vast distance! Seriously worth the climb. Such a reward!
The hike down yellow is treacherous-- I followed the loop down (rather than backtrack) & with wet leaves and tree roots and rocks, you have to be very careful! There was a spot I sort of shimmied down backwards, but for the most part, it is doable to get down with a hike or jog. I would not do this stretch with little ones-- it would give me too much anxiety! FYI, hiking poles would've saved my knees here, but I didn't have any, so I had to buck up and deal with a little knee discomfort all weekend.
You will celebrate when you finally get down the yellow loop, but then you have to hop on blue and it starts with a really steep climb! The reward at the end of this final climb is a sweet little field atop a hill that makes you want to sing some Sound of Music. You'll finish this trail on more of a dirt road that comes out by the water tower. Just a hike back to the parking lot and you can celebrate a job well done! Total mileage for this hike logged in at 3.82, and with photo stops, it took me roughly 2 1/2 hours. Definitely not a quickie, but not too long considering the epic views!
Mother of 3. Fit-philosopher. Showing my kids how to be fit via living life to the max. Newbie photographer. Simplistic cook who shares easy, healthy meals. Lover of kid-friendly hikes & getting outdoors & unplugged.